Tag Archives: you won’t regret it

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

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What Alice forgotWhat Alice Forgot” opens with Alice Love regaining conciousness on the floor of a gym. We meander through her daydreams and memories of being 29, newly pregnant, and madly in love with her husband. But when she wakes up, she is told that she is 39, with three children and going through a nasty divorce. “That was the day Alice Mary Love went to the gym and carelessly misplaced a decade of her life.”

We follow Alice as she navigates this new life. Because she believes she is 29, she sees the world as fresh and new and beautiful. But the life she is dropped into has lost all of those qualities, and it is up to her to puzzle out why. However, all of the people that she turned to a decade before have been alienated to some degree by one thing or another.

The whole time I was reading this book, I was intrigued by the premise of it. Alice is able to objectively evaluate the choices she made for a decade. And it is the kinder, gentler version of herself analyzing everything. Not the cynical 39 year old near divorcee! At one point, Alice’s sister Elisabeth tells her this: “Maybe this memory loss is sort of a good thing because it will help you see things more objectively without your mind being cluttered with everything that’s happened over the last ten years. And once you get your memory back, you’ll still have a different perspective and you and Nick will be able to work things out without all the fighting.”

I love a book that challenges me to think differently and this one does just that. Liane Moriarty seems to be shouting, “Just let go of your bitterness and hurt for a moment and really think about what you’re doing!” So often we hold onto the past as if it’s all we have, when what we really need to do is learn from it and live for today. So I challenge you to read this book. Remind yourself of simpler times. Take a long hard look at your life and see if there are things that need to be changed. If you’re like me, you’ll be inspired to be kinder by following the example of Alice Love.

 

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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“What do you seek in these shelves?”  Clay Jannon walks into Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore and isMr-Penumbras-24-hr-Bookstore greeted with just this question. What he’s looking for is a job. What he finds is an adventure. Marked by strange customers, tall bookshelves and lots of hours leftover to think and plan.

I loved this book. I was a bit worried when Jannon breaks one of the rules laid out for him by Penumbra, but instead of being in trouble for the indiscretion, he is rewarded for his curiosity. Once that happened, I was able to relax and enjoy the adventure without the fear that our beloved hero would disappoint his mentor.

This is a fun book. It takes you on an adventure that melds the generations gone before with the technology of today. It challenges you to see the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Instead of always looking for something greater that has been left to you by someone else, look around at what you have. Appreciate it. Life your life fully. Don’t waste your days stuck trying to figure out someone else’s journey. Live your own. And be aware of what you are doing.

“I pushed the bookstore’s glass door. It made a bell tinkle brightly up above, and I stepped slowly through. I did not realize at the time what an important threshold I had just crossed.”

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

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the-gods-of-guilt“I took a right on First and saw the Town Cars parked along the sidewalk. There were six of them in line like a funeral procession, their drivers gathered together on the sidewalk, shooting the breeze and waiting. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but ever since the movie, a whole contingent of Lincoln lawyers had cropped up and routinely crowded the curbs outside the courthouses of L.A. I was both proud and annoyed. I had heard more than a few times that there were other lawyers out there saying they were the inspiration for the film. On top of that, I had jumped into the wrong Lincoln at least three times in the past month.” -Mickey Haller

I love a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Especially when said book is well written and entertaining in many different ways. Mickey Haller gets a call to defend a man accused of murder only to find out that the victim was a former client of his. A woman he had relocated years earlier, who then returned home even though it was unsafe. The accused maintains his innocence, and claims that he was referred by the victim herself.

Maybe like me, you have seen Matthew McConaughey play the Lincoln layer in the movie that is referred to in this book! Maybe that is enough reason for you to pick up the book and have a read. But, if it’s not, then let me give you a few more reasons.

1. A varied cast of characters, none quite like another, so that you will absolutely fall in love with at least one of them. My favorite is the driver Earl. Loyal, tough with a heart of gold. You know the type.

2. A story that never lags, but keeps your interest no matter how long it takes you to read.

3. The tension of whether there would be a happy ending or not. Of course I thought there would be, but then something would go wrong and I’d be in doubt. Then, just when I again assured myself that it would end well, something would happen to make me doubt my story predicting abilities, not to mention my faith that Michael Connelly would write the ending that I wanted.

If you want more reasons, go read it yourself. Seriously, you’re going to love it. Have I steered you wrong yet? (If I have, I’m ever so very sorry!)

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

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stripedpyjamasBruno is nine years old when his father is transferred to a new job. The German family packs up their belongings and moves to Out-With. The first time Bruno looks out his new bedroom window and sees the low huts with so many people all milling about in striped pyjamas, you realize that his childlike mind has changed Auschwitz into Out-With; and that his father is the commandante of a concentration camp and that he has no idea what any of it means.

I loved the innocence that a child’s vocabulary brought to such a dark part of history. Listen to his description of Hitler, “The Fury was far shorter than Father and not, Bruno supposed, quite as strong. He had dark hair, which was cut quite short, and a tiny moustache- so tiny in fact that Bruno wondered why he bothered with it at all or whether he had simply forgotten a piece when he was shaving.” His little thoughts were enchanting and I found myself smiling and giggling along with him.

There were times that his ignorance broke my heart, and times when I was glad he had no idea what was going on around him.

Overall it was a good book. It made you think differently about things, and wonder what life was like on both sides of the fence. The only thing I disagreed with a bit was that it seemed to me that the majority of the people wished they weren’t Nazis. There was one particularly unkind guard at the camp, but other than that, most of the adults disagreed with Bruno’s father. Or were not proud of what they were doing. And it seemed to me that if the Nazis were anything, it was proud. It seems unlikely to me that the 9 year old son of a commandante would be so ignorant of the Nazi ideals. Maybe I’m wrong, but the book seems apologetically Nazi and in my mind, that is an oxymoron. The Nazis did not apologize. They thought they were right.

I would recommend “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” to anybody. It was sad, as you’d expect a book about Auschwitz to be, but the sadness was tempered a bit by the imagination and thoughts of a little boy trying to figure life out.

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

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9781414371719_p0_v1_s260x420 (1)“Every mother knows the reason Robert Frost took the road less traveled is because he wasn’t traveling with children who needed to go to the bathroom every thirty minutes. Otherwise he would have taken the road paved with McDonald’s and truck stops with restrooms, covered by antibacterial hand soap and prayer. And that would have made all the difference.” –Melanie Shankle

The thing about parenting is that it is simultaneously the same and drastically different for everybody. Whether you have boys or girls or both. Lots of children or only one. There are things that are the same straight across the board. There are difficulties and joys, and we as Moms love to share both. We want to tell you all about our experiences, and in turn we want to hear just how you have handled the situations you have found yourself in. Reading Sparkly Green Earrings feels like you are just sitting down with Melanie and having a conversation about your day. Of course you don’t get to say anything, and the day in question actually lasts a few years. But it’s the kind of conversation we all need to have every now and then. The kind that makes you laugh. Not the mean kind where you’re  laughing at someone, but fun kind where you shake your head and say, “Oh man, I remember that!”

This is my favorite kind of parenting book. It’s not a list of rules and how to’s. There is no magic formula for having perfect children. It is just a simple story of one woman’s journey. She is willing to sit down with you (ok… she sat down a while ago… now it’s your turn to sit) and share the things she has learned as she parented her daughter through her first eight years of life. It is full of the honesty we expect and appreciate these days. Then, while you’re still holding your sides, and trying not to laugh so loud you wake the baby next to you, she drops a little revelation on you. Something about looking at your children through the eyes of their creator, or seeing yourself as you really are, or finding the meaning of grace and love and mercy simply by holding your newly born baby that very first time.

“We like to believe they are better versions of us, but the truth is, they are us. They are full of our selfishness and impulsiveness and pettiness. They want things to go their way just like we do, and they scream and yell and throw things when it doesn’t work out. The only difference between them and us is what my grandma would refer to as ‘home training.’

God gives us these raw little people, and we have to form them and mold them and teach them how to operate in society. And if we get a glimpse of all the ugliness that lies right beneath our own polished surface? Well, then, there’s a humbling lesson too. It’s those moments when I realize I have to extend grace to Caroline as she figures these things out by trial and error in the same way God lavishes me with mercy, even as I make the same mistakes over and over again.”

Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel and Bret Witter

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“We are born alone and die alone, but all my favorite moments of life had been spent with someone else.” –Susan Spencer-Wendel

Until-I-Say-Goodbye_custom-234c902cc18a9db2bd48b9c9f4f7aa29af7856b7-s6-c10I have had this book sitting on my Kindle waiting to be reviewed for a long time now. I can’t quite figure out how to explain to you that you should read it. Because you will love it. Because you will be challenged by it. Because you will see that it is possible to live with joy. In any circumstance.

In 2011, Susan Spencer-Wendel is diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She knows that this diagnosis means a loss of her career, her mobility, her freedom, and ultimately her life. And her life is not simply the breath in her lungs, it is also a husband and children, friends and family. Once she receives this diagnosis, she decides to live these last days fully. To give her children and her husband memories to help them through the hard days ahead. She says this, “I thought of my new uncertainty: How long can I live with ALS? I thought, ‘Don’t search for answers. Live the question.’ Enjoy life more because of the uncertainty, not less.” She takes trips with her children, and her husband, and her best friend Nancy. She lives her life while she still can. And when she is incapable of the outward, physical side of life, these same people step in and perform each and every task for her.

I remember describing Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy to someone while I was reading it. I started crying, and I know they were thinking, “Why are you reading that book if it’s so sad?” But the thing is, it’s not sad while you’re reading it. It really is filled with joy. Somehow, Susan manages to truly live with joy. She pulls her mind out of the funk as often as she has to and reminds herself of the joy to be found. And in doing so, she will remind you too. The story is sad. But the telling is incredible. It offers hope. Susan reminds us to live our own lives no matter what the circumstances. To love your children and husband with everything you’ve got.

I’ll leave you with this thought of Susan’s. It may show you a little bit of why I enjoyed this book so much.

“I said I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

And I did.

I might have been dying, but that night- on that terrace, after that meal, with those people- I was experiencing the full wonder of life.

I had arrived a stranger, but I was leaving with a new family.

I was unafraid.

Fearless.”

Lonely on the Mountain by Louis L’Amour

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“One thing about a Sackett, he finishes what he starts if it is a good thing to start. All of us knew that whatever else was happening, we’d be pushing west. West was where I was going, and if I arrived there with no cows, I’d round up a buffalo herd and drive it in, or try.

If that failed, I’d have to get a rattlesnake for a whip and drive a flock of grizzlies. Right now I was mad enough to do it.” William Tell Sackett

Lonely on the Mountain is the last in the Sackett series of books. As you can imagine, I am sad to be finished with them. The characters have become like sweet friends with whom I love spending my time. I was happy to see that if I had to say goodbye to my friends, at least there were quite a few of them in the book to give my regards to.

This book follows Tyrel, Orrin, and Tell taking a herd of cattle west to Logan. They received a letter from him saying that he needed a herd of cattle, and that they should suspect trouble along the way. This was enough of a reason for them to drop everything and head out with a herd.  There was indeed trouble along the way, but it was handled in true Sackett form. Head on with courage. I love this exchange with a man named the Ox, who gets his name for his huge stature and brute strength. “When the right time comes, I’ll take pleasure in beating your head in.’ the Ox said.

Orrin smiled. ‘Don’t talk like a fool, man. You couldn’t whip one side of me, and away down inside you know it.’

The Ox was not amused. ‘Nobody ever whipped me,’ he said, ‘and nobody can.’

‘Keep that thought. I want you to have it when I prove you wrong.”

The Ox was big and used to people being afraid of him, so he didn’t need a lot of finesse in his fighting technique. If he didn’t scare them out of the fight, he overpowered them. Until he met a man who was also strong, but with brains and fighting skills. I love Orrin’s attitude toward the much larger Ox. Confidence like that can be disarming to one who has never lost.

I will miss following the Sackett family across country. I will miss the insights into humanity that are offered through the eyes of this family. I recommend that you read this book, but not until you have read all of the Sackett books that come before. You will not be disappointed.